Aloe awoke finding herself on a table. There was a bright cast of lights beaming into her eyes. Was she dead? No, she felt pain – it was from her throbbing head.
“Ma’am, she’s awake,” a voice said firmly.
Aloe’s eyes slowly adjusted, finding that she was inside a small, white room. The surroundings were different but vaguely familiar. She was in a Medical Bay, but how? She could hear a heart-rate machine beeping in the background. Looking around, her eyes met with the face of a pudgy looking man. He had a thick mustache under a broad nose with glasses sitting at the brim. He wore a white lab coat.
A doctor? Aloe thought.
“Take it easy,” the man said. “You’re safe now.”
“Where am I?” Aloe asked weakly, feeling her head throb even more when she spoke.
“You’re aboard the Stockholm,” a female voice replied.
Aloe glanced over to see a large, b***y woman, approaching. She stood firm with her hands pressed behind her back. She sharp features with her red hair was neatly pinned up – her chin pointed upward.
“I’m Chief Kaya,” she said. “Welcome aboard.”
“Corporal Aloe,” Aloe answered, rendering a light salute.
The woman’s lips curled at the end as if pleased with the recognition of her rank.
“Ma’am, what happened?”
“You tell us, Corporal,” the woman started. “We were scheduled to dock with your ship to collect your load and resupply you. However, H.D.P instructed that we cancel our rendezvous. It’s not something a ship wants to hear after taking such liberties to traverse a two-day trip. Do you care to enlighten us on the reasoning behind this order because they have failed to do so with us?”
Aloe didn’t respond. What could she say? Her crew was attacked by strange creatures?
The woman continued though as if the question had been rhetorical. “You’re very fortunate we didn’t depart immediately after so. The explosion from the Insula is what stopped us. We spotted your escape pod soon after and scooped you up. Your ship, unfortunately, could not hold its orbit and crashed into PL-0490.”
Aloe rendered a sigh of relief. Then those things had to be dead this time, but at what cost? Her crew? Faa? Ven…?
No, this wasn’t the time to think about that. She had to focus on the outcome. If not for this ship, Aloe would still be unconscious, floating aimlessly among the stars. The thought sent a shiver down her spine.
“Thank you, Ma’am.”
The woman’s lips became a line and her nostrils flared. “We’re not in the habit of picking up squatters,” she stated harshly. “You may have survived quite an ordeal, but I expect everyone on my ship to pull –” She was interrupted by her Caller.
“Ma’am, we got sight of another possible survivor,” a voice spoke from the device. “Scanners are picking up a male.”
Aloe’s eyes lit up. It couldn’t be! she thought. “Ven?!” she shouted.
Her outburst had startled the woman along with the doctor.
“Another of your crew, I suspect?” the woman noted. “Well they are lucky as well. Corporal Deen, make arrangements to obtain the survivor.”
Aloe smiled – something she hadn’t done in a while. She was relieved. She wasn’t the only one who had made it.
How long had Ven been floating out there though? Did his oxygen hold up? She hoped he was still alive. As she dwelled on this, more thoughts flooded her mind. How did his body even make it out this far? Her pod had barely managed to escape the planet’s pull and yet Ven’s body had done so. It was impossible, wasn’t it?
During her escape, she wasn’t able to see what had happened to him once he opened the bay doors. There was no telling what became of him then.
Her smiled faded as another thought came to surface.
What if that wasn’t Ven?